The White House’s announcement Friday that it had tapped Elizabeth Warren to set up its new financial consumer protection bureau was met with a predictable reaction from Capitol Hill: applause from Democrats and scorn from Republicans.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, Illinois Democrat, called Warren — a Harvard Law School professor who has been serving as head of an investigative board that oversees the $700 billion Wall Street bailout — the “right person for one of the most important jobs in the country.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, said Warren’s appointment was “a true victory for America’s middle class and one of the strongest statements we can make that Wall Street abuses will no longer be allowed to jeopardize our financial security.”
Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, who caucuses with Democrats and is perhaps the Senate’s most liberal member, called Warren “smart,” “tough” and “prepared.”
“At a time when the working families of this country are profoundly disgusted by the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior of Wall Street, I applaud President Obama for putting her in charge of setting up the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB),” Sanders said.
Sanders was among the first to back Warren in a July 19 letter to President Obama that called her the best choice to stand up to the big banks and Wall Street.
But Sen. Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, called the president’s appointment “just another disturbing trend in this administration of creating unaccountable czars and czarinas.”
“She represents a view — which is a view represented in the financial regulatory bill — that makes credit harder to get on Main Street, that imposes Washington decisions on local banking issues, and that would put her and the agency in charge of making millions of decisions that ought to be made by the free market or by community banks,” the Tennessee senator said.
Sen. Mike Enzi, Wyoming Republican, complained that by appointing Warren directly to the newly created agency the White House has skirted the normal Senate confirmation process.
“This appointment sidesteps the very mechanisms put in place by Congress to create a transparent and accountable CFPB,” Enzi said. “This political maneuver to avoid the confirmation process adds insult to injury to anyone who believes in government checks and balances.”